I always saw myself as the climb-to-the-top office type.  But, after I graduated college, there were no ‘remote’ opportunities or flexibility in the workplace by any means. So I dove in – all in – to the corporate life, and I became a self-proclaimed workaholic.

Years later, in a leadership role at a medical company, I realized I was fast approaching ‘rock bottom’ when it came to my health and overall balance of life.  The long hours away from home, constantly being on-call and lack of work and personal boundaries really hit me hard. I wasn’t sleeping, had severe anxiety and was even battling disordered eating.

The stress of a ‘whatever it takes’ work place was taking its toll on my body. But something else was also at play – my dislike of my actual job. Yet, it just seemed like the thing you “had” to live with at the time.

Around that time, however, I started working on my personal growth and I read a book that changed everything: Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. Her experience with burnout and her quest to decrease stress, overwhelm and find true happiness and fulfillment resonated deeply within me.

I knew I needed to make some serious changes.

I still had a deep burning desire to move forward into a leadership role within an organization, but I knew I needed balance too.  Yet, I felt that I could not possibly find this based on my perceived expectation of leaders in large organizations.

Not long after reading Thrive, I began seeking roles within organizations that believed in work-life balance with employee health and wellbeing set as a priority.  I took a position with a technology and training company that taught people how to be more productive with the hours in their day and thus able to achieve more work-life balance. Again, I was all in! I quickly put the tools to use and felt like I was finally getting the hang of this whole ‘balance thing.’

And then it hit. The news my husband and I were being sent to North Carolina for his military career. My current position required me to be in Colorado, so…it was time to find something new.

While at my former company, I helped to open the Cisco account and made a wonderful connection with a Cisco leader I considered a mentor. He spoke highly of Cisco as an organization being all about its people and the vast amount of opportunities for growth and development – not to mention their focus on flexibility.  He also seemed to have this balance thing figured out. So, with his encouragement and direction, I interviewed with a Cisco contracting firm where shortly thereafter I began my career in marketing and communications.

What immediately caught my attention in my role at Cisco was that people here loved their jobs! They were excited to be at work and all of the teams I experienced had such great engagement – the positivity around me was infectious. Cisco employees have a passion for their job and for their life – this extends in to our leadership too. We work very hard, but we also know when it’s time to shut down and go live our lives.

Leaders actually want their employees to unplug and experience life outside of work. Thanks to Cisco technology, we can work from anywhere – which provides more flexibility, and everyone I meet at Cisco seems to have this “balance” thing figured out too.

We’re truly fulfilled in our careers at Cisco. We have a supportive, flexible, diverse culture where growth and development is encouraged. Each and every leader I came in to contact with supported this growth perspective and wanted their employees to succeed – even if that meant moving beyond their team.

This is when it dawned on me – The secret was never finding balance between work and life – it was finding a career I LOVED! The “work-life balance” I had been seeking wasn’t completely accurate. But, instead I wanted a whole-life balance. Relationships, work, passions and activities – they all matter – and Cisco realizes this.

Recently, I was offered a blue badge role with Cisco in under a years’ time with the company. I have never been more excited to take a role nor have I ever seen myself with an organization long term the way I do at Cisco. That deep burning desire I have to move toward leadership?  It’s now become even greater while at Cisco where the opportunities are endless!

People here truly do love their jobs and they love Cisco. I feel fortunate to have found my ‘fit’ and I am proud to call myself a Cisco employee. The journey to get here was not smooth by any means – but those bumps made the reward well worth the travel.


Want to join a company that believes in your WHOLE balance? We want that too. 😉 Apply now.



Tarrah Speer Lee

Program Manager, Internal Enablement

Cisco Managed Services